Tuesday 30 April 2013

On Being a Grandparent

Rhonda has written an especially meaningful blog post today on her pleasure of being Grandma to Jamie and Alex, you can read it here

As you know our 13th grandchild is on his way and sadly for us 6 of them are in Canada and many miles away so we're looking forward to finally meeting Phoenix, Megan, Austin and Liam later this year.

Yesterday and today I am caring for Jess(10) and Livvie(8)and yesterday we visited my parents...Dad took the girls out in the golf cart to the nearby golf club for an hour or so. Then we did my grocery shopping with the girls fetching almost everything I needed and listening to me talk about the importance of free-range eggs and not using plastic bags! Jess read poetry to me while I prepared dinner and then they both went outside to climb trees and the brick letterbox!

They took lots of photos with their i-pod thingies so I will have to add some of them at a later date. Today we're going to visit Mandy and Jordan and that will be lovely, it's the second week of school holidays here.

Elizabeth's Caleb and David have been unwell with coughs and colds but David doesn't have the hooping cough that Eliz had recently but Caleb has tonsillitis and anti-biotics and finally a doctor who wants him back in a week to establish whether he will need to have his tonsils removed as it is a frequent illness for him.

Priscilla is now 23 weeks along and looking very well as you can see below...she's taking a self-portrait photo every Sunday so that we have a nice record for Liam one day...

I feel very blessed.

I'll be making lentil soup this morning and chicken and salad sandwiches for lunch so I'd better get a wriggle on!
Love to you all,

Monday 29 April 2013

Curing Olives

I bottled the olives we picked at Gaynor's house almost 2 weeks ago yesterday...I followed these traditional instructions from the Hunter Olive Association and was pleased to find it a very, very easy process. We washed and then stabbed each olive 3 times with fork, I think this looks a little messy so I made a slit in Mandy's olives with a sharp knife. Then we placed them in a clean plastic bucket and covered them with a brine solution of 1 part cooking salt and 20 parts water. We changed the brine every day and I started tasting the olives after a week...keep a bin handy as the olives are horribly bitter at this stage. Eventually, when they become quite OK and taste like olives ought, it is time to bottle them...we only picked black ones but some lost their colour as they soaked...

Thoroughly wash and dry the jars and place them in a warm oven for 10 minutes or so, let them cool while you make a fresh brine of 1 part salt and 10 parts water...

Pack the olives into the jars, try not to squash them but you want to make sure there are no wasted spaces too...

Cover them with the stronger brine and a tablespoon of olive oil and leave for 5 weeks in a cool, dark place

After 5 weeks they should be ready to eat, you can drain them and place them in a mix of olive oil and herbs etc to marinate them or use them as they are in soups/stews/pasta sauces.
Cost to make all these? About $1 for the natural lake salt and olive oil! Helps to have generous friends too!

Did I show Eliz's beautiful kangaroo painting? She has just finished one of a racing motorcycle which I'll show you soon...it's amazing to think she's self-taught and so very good...

Hope you have a great week,
Love from Sue

Thursday 25 April 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

On this day last year Mum and Dad were in Korea as guests of the government and today Mum and I watched as Dad marched in the Kwinana RSL ceremony in Medina.
The marchers included ex and current service personnel, volunteer and paid firemen, scouts and cubs...I missed Dad as I couldn't get close enough! Halfway through the service two jets flew over us and dipped their wings in salute. I was too slow for that picture!

The padre and bugler did a wonderful job...

Mum and Dad with Carol Adams the Kwinana Mayor...

Discussing medals with Carol...

Making the Mayor laugh...as he does with every-one...

After the very moving service...

With a very proud flag bearer from one of the scout groups...

We met our Uncle Bert and Catrina too...

Dad is nearly 80 yrs old but still young enough to lend a hand to this "old digger", Sam...

He told him that would cost a dollar for the assistance lol...

We went into the little RSL clubrooms nearby and were made very welcome, a lovely lunch and beer etc were freely available to members and their guests.

This is my 300th post and I'm glad it has fallen on such a special post.
Lest We Forget.

Lack of posting this week has been partly due to the horror of almost losing Twitch again to that blocked gut disorder. A pain killing injection at the Vet and then home to rest has done the trick this time but made me look again at his diet. He needs to be eating much more hay and vegetables and far fewer pellets so hopefully with these changes we may prevent a re-occurrence.

Bye bye for now,

Thursday 18 April 2013

What a Day!

Yesterday started early and noisily with our side fence being replaced. Three blokes used power tools and saws to dismantle the old warped wooden fence and the shrubs that were draping themselves over it. Poor Twitch was frightened by the noise and thumped his hind legs to warn us there was trouble brewin'!!
Then I burned my toast!

Mandy and Paul picked us up around 10.30am and we drove up to Gnor and Bill's lovely home north of Perth where we were warmly welcomed and met BJ and Derek. After a chat and a cuppa lunch was served at the huge square table. Gnor placed 4 bowls of hot water on the table and stacks of rice papers. Then she brought out dish upon dish of salad ingredients, cooked rice noodles, tuna, chopped omelette, 2 different chicken dishes and satay pork. We took a rice paper wrapper and dipped it in the hot water briefly then lay it on our plates. Then the real fun began...we placed noodles, a variety of vegies and meats and sauce/pickles then rolled it up with varying degrees of success lol It was such good  and sociable fun and so very, very tasty.
Cold Vietnamese rolls

After eating far too many we wandered outside to see the gardens. Gnor and her family have 6 rescued battery hens who were happy to see what she'd brought them to eat, there were mandarins and lemons growing, ripe olives galore and a great variety of herbs. Armed with pillowcases we 'girls' picked around 6-7 kilos of black olives for Mandy and I to bring home and Gnor gave me a large bag full of fresh, organic basil too.
Next on the agenda was soap-making and Bill lit the BBQ so that we could work outdoors as the caustic soda and water gives off very strong fumes. Gnor had gathered everything together and read and re-read the instructions so I just talked her through the process described by Rhonda here.

Have you ever heard of LARP, Live Action Role Playing? Well Bill and Gnor and their teenage sons are heavily involved in this and make all their own costumes too. In fact Bill has built a forge in the shed and makes their own armour, chain mail, swords, helmets etc with great skill and attention to detail, it was really fascinating to find Saxon, Roman and 17thC (replica)helmets in a Perth garage. In another twist of fate we met Gnor through our friend, Lara, but Gnor and Bill already knew Paul's son as he is also in their LARP group!
Joe and Paul thoroughly enjoyed Bill's company as they discussed chemistry and had a demo of flash powder burning!

We didn't get home until after 5pm but I quickly made some pesto(basil paste) while the basil was still very fresh and then it was time to tackle the olives. I used this traditional method and Joe and I stood stabbing olives with a fork before dropping them into the brine...they made our hands very black. Gnor had preserved lots by simply mixing them with salt, the ones we had were 3 yrs old and sooo tasty but probably too salty for good health. That method is the Greek dried black olive described in the link.

I didn't take a single photo all day as I was too busy really enjoying myself!

This morning my world is covered in fog and hopefully the contractors will be back to finish the fence, they had to wait for the cement to set overnight. I just burned my toast again ;)

Thirty years ago my beautiful daughter, Elizabeth was born and although her family don't celebrate birthdays we are sending them much love. Our grandson, Cody, becomes a teenager today too...13 trips around the planet as they describe it!

So bye bye for now
Love from Sue

Not sure where this sweet photo was taken, I found it facebook and I can't leave without adding a pic to this post lol xxx

Friday 12 April 2013

Spiced Banana Bread

Another recipe from the low cholesterol cookbook BUT I would not use half as much spice next time...the cinnamon and nutmeg are over-powering. This recipe made a bigger cake/loaf than the date one I posted last week and had a lovely texture...

You'll need...

1/3 cup strong black coffee
2/3 cup soft brown sugar

Heat together until sugar dissolves and let cool.

1 egg
1 egg white
3T vegetable oil(I had rice bran oil)
1t vanilla extract

Beat these together and add the coffee and sugar.
Stir in the following, you could add some seeds or chopped nuts too.

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup of plain flour
2 cups of SR flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1t bicarb/baking soda

If it seems a little dry and mine did you can add some milk or plain yogurt.

Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake at 170C for about 45 minutes or until it feels firm to the touch.

Ours was sliced and frozen as per usual. Joe has some spread with jam and another slice with 'diet' ice-cream on top.
Did you know that if you see bananas at a reduced price you can freeze them in their skins and use them in recipes like this?

Hope you enjoy making it as much as you will enjoy eating it.

A Few Photos

Had a rather quiet week and today has been overcast and drizzly which is such a relief after highs in the mid-30s!
I noticed the neighbours passionfruit vine has lots of flowers on it now and then better still I saw the first fruit...our neighbours have told us to help ourselves to any fruit that grows on our side of the fence...

The parcel delivery van came this afternoon the yarn that Wendy had offered me last week, I knew it was coming but didn't realise how much there would be...I see numerous baby blankets in my future and am very grateful to her...

 Cousin Bob and his three teenage 'children' have been in the Lake District this week, I loved this photo of Rebecca and Alex, they were within 300ft of the summit of Coniston Old Man but ice and the lack of crampons meant they had to come down again...

Christina, the youngest, was also there, here she is representing Great Britain at judo...

I have to write up another low cholesterol cake recipe next and I made some sourdough muffins two days ago. My presentation is as bad as ever but they did taste very good lol I used this recipe...my starter is still not really ready to make a loaf of bread but I am much inspired by Sandra's photos on Facebook

Talk about warts and all lol!

Bye bye for now,
I hope that Elizabeth and Kath's family get well very soon, they're all suffering from severe colds at opposite sides of the world!
Love, Sue

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Neck Pillow Tutorial

As you may know we're off to Canada again this year. That's the great news. The not-great news is that we'll be in transit for over 50 hours non-stop on the way there! We've never had neck pillows before so I asked friends what they thought of them and they gave them a big thumbs up, Natalie suggested I make my own so I looked on-line and saw how very simple they are. Mum has an inflatable one so I used that to make my pattern from newspaper...draw around your template if you can borrow one, add 1/4 inch seam allowance...

fold the pattern and the fabric and pin the pattern to the fabric on the fold....this ensures both sides are the same...cut two pieces...

Pin back and front together with right sides facing...

Genius struck at this point and I cut the clip off an old lanyard so that I can attach it to my carry-on bag...

stitch the sides together using very small stitches for extra strength, I went over the lanyard 3 times to secure it firmly...leave a space as big as your hand to turn it right side out and stuff it very firmly...

  I took time out to introduce Twitch to a toy beaver, he couldn't have cared less!

Stitch up the opening and stand back and admire...

It was sheer chance and luck that my fabric pattern is the same on both legs/sides but something to consider when you pin the pattern to the fabric. This gorgeous material is a reproduction of one in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I love the Edwardian look of it.

I used polyester stuffing but instead of buying toy stuffing I buy a pillow for $5 from Spotlight and get much more for much less! So we now each have a comfy neck pillow for $0 as I already had all the things I used, they were on sale for $14 each at the shopping centre and covered with some nasty nylon/synthetic material.
I saw that some people had made smaller ones for their children who tend to nod off on car drives, lovely idea.

We have a 12 hour wait at San Francisco airport for the flight to Montreal. I've checked on-line for information about the airport and they offer showers for $8 each and then we'll have to find a quiet corner to rest on the lightweight shawls I plan to carry. I do feel better for having a plan and pillow now lol! I also hope that we will see the Golden Gate Bridge from the plane.

Thank you all for your kind wishes for Jessie yesterday. Lynda thank you too for your thoughts about my "diary"...it really is my gift to my family and I do hope they will look at in years to come and know they were much loved and also see a little about me that perhaps they had forgotten or never knew.

Bye bye for now,
Love from Sue

If you're unable to get something to draw around to make your pattern I will post one to you!

Monday 8 April 2013

Happy Birthday, Jessica

My goodness, April is a busy month in our family and today we celebrate Jessie's 10th birthday. The time has flown by and when I watch her playing tee-ball and soccer, climbing trees or gently caring for younger cousins and friends it's hard to comprehend that she is my granddaughter.

So I send all my love to you today, Miss Jessica, have a wonderful day and my best wishes for a great year ahead.
With cousin Jacob...in her hand-knitted dress...I love Jake's face in this photo...

2yrs old, at the library with me...I sent this photo into Take 5 magazine and it was published...

two very excited flower girls...Olivia(3) and Jessica(5)

aged 6 yrs and learning to sew, also with me...knitting has been less successful lol

In goals playing soccer last winter...

Have a wonderful day, Sweetheart

Friday 5 April 2013

Happy Birthday, Mum!

My beautiful Mum turns 76 yrs of age today and as she's not off playing golf we'll visit her and Dad this afternoon!

Margo Polo and Biggles waiting for their flight to Sydney last year...

"Rocking" those crutches after a knee replacement in 2008...Mum has had several operations and is always incredibly brave...

With her big brother, Tom, and Dad in 1990's, I think, at Slyne Cote in Uncle Tom's beautiful garden...

as a teenager...beautiful inside and out...

See you this afternoon, Mum,
All my love and gratitude,

Kimchi Soup


Coming to the end of a jar of kimchi I wondered what I could use the fermented liquid for knowing it is very good for the digestive system. Google advised that it can be drunk, and it's yummy btw, and one recipe I loved the look of is Kimchi Soup which uses both the liquid and a cup of the kimchi itself.

I don't have the Korean chilli flakes and it seemed it would be far too hot for us Westerners so I came up with this blend to feed 2...

1 cup kimchi(I make my own)
1 cup kimchi liquid
1 cup of water
a small sliced onion
2 sliced spring onions
chopped chili to taste, remember the kimchi is already hot
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms/zucchini etc
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 T soy sauce
packet of firm tofu, sliced
you could add a little ground or ready cooked meat too

Start by frying the kimchi and sliced onion in a little oil for about 5-7 minutes.
Add kimchi liquid, water, vegetables and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Stir in garlic, soy sauce and tofu and cooked meat if using and taste for seasoning.
Simmer gently for another 10 minutes and serve with steamed rice on the side.

It's really very good ;)

Thursday 4 April 2013

Date and Bran Loaf

I am still here but it seems my blogging mojo has gone walkabout! My head is too full of things to organise~~tickets, visas, insurance, hotels and bus fares too!

I'm also trying to tackle our high cholesterol as we've been eating way too much butter and Joe can't resist fried eggs/bacon/sausages it appears so changes are a-happening.
The first casualty is that fabulous date slice I shared recently...I'm trying a different recipe that doesn't use butter or eggs...
A lovely simple recipe too,

1 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of chopped dates(the original recipe used apricots and figs)
1 cup of skim milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Soak the above for 10-15 minutes and then stir in a cup of self-raising flour. It seemed a little dry so I splashed in couple of tablespoons of black coffee too.

Bake at 180C for about 45minutes

That's it! Oats and oat bran are great for helping strip bad cholesterol from our arteries and cinnamon is recommended for diabetics too.
The loaf is sweet and moist but will not stay fresh for long so I'll slice it up and freeze it once it's cool...

Today our lovely Elizabeth and her hubby Danny celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, congratulations and much love you all xxx

 She often jokes that she had the baby, mortgage and then the wedding!!! Doesn't Cody look so sweet?

Bye bye for now